Immigration Officials

Our immigration authorities have to get much more vigilant about advising communities that it is not lawful in Australia.
Australian residents taking a girl to FGM affected countries:

A young girl being taken to a country which practices FGM is considered be in high danger.

  • Ask what is the purpose of travel.
  • Ask the family if they are travelling for a special celebration involving the girl
  • Ask does the celebration involve genital cutting/circumcision.
  • If suspicious, request pre and post travel medical examination for intactness.
  • If the girl is old enough, ask her in private if she is concerned that she is being taken for FGM.
  • Inform the family that there are serious penalties for taking a girl for FGM.
  • Tell the family that they will be followed up by police on re-entry to Australia to ensure the girl has not been mutilated.
People immigrating from FGM affected countries
When families from countries where FGM is practised arrive in Australia they must be informed about the laws in Australia which prohibit any form of FGM either in Australia or overseas.
Older families members visiting from FGM affected countries
As often FGM is carried out by the elder women in FGM affected communities. If a relatives such as an older woman is visiting from a country known to practice FGM then she must be considered a possible risk to young girls in Australia. Elder women who are travelling with ceremonial equipment, particularly knives, should be questioned about the purpose of such equipment. They need to be asked who they are visiting, and if there are young girls in the family they are visiting then the girls should be considered in possible danger of female genital mutilation.

They must also be informed that any form of cutting of girls is illegal in Australia and carries heavy penalties.

FGM affected countries

In Africa, FGM is known to be practiced among certain communities in 29 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

Certain ethnic groups in Asian countries practice FGM, including in communities in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

In the Middle East, the practice occurs in Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, as well as in Iraq, the State of Palestine and Israel.

In South America, certain communities are known to practice FGM in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru.

And in many western countries, including Australia, Canada, Europe, the United States and the United Kingdom, FGM is practiced among diaspora populations from areas where the practice is common.

Australian Government Advice

From the Smart Traveller website:

“According to the laws of all States and Territories, female genital mutilation is a criminal act.  These laws apply to acts committed overseas as well as in Australia to protect Australian residents from being taken overseas for the purposes of female genital mutilation.

How do I report a suspected case of female genital mutilation overseas?

If you are worried that you or someone you know has been taken overseas for female genital mutilation, please contact the nearest Australian overseas mission.  You can also call the Department’s 24/7 Consular Emergency Centre at 1300 555 135 (from Australia) or +61 2 6261 3304 (from overseas).

What support is available in Australia?

If you have concerns that you or someone you know is at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation you should report it immediately to your local police.

Contact details for your nearest police station can be found on the following State and Territory websites:

Health, legal, family and community support services are available to assist Australian citizens and residents who have been affected by female genital mutilation. 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) is an inclusive, free and confidential professional counselling service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A full translation service is available to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Australian Survivors of Torture and Trauma works with survivors who have come to Australia from overseas. They have an agency in each State or Territory.

For additional local support services contact the health department in your State or Territory.”

FGM as a reason for seeking asylum

FGM is a form of torture and any woman or girl who is from an FGM affected community may be escaping FGM by fleeing to a country such as Australia. Refugee Legal Aid provides information for those who are concerned they are in danger of FGM and are seeking asylum on these grounds.

If you have any questions please contact us.